Get your Rapture hats ready, kiddies! The sky is falling, and our wise gift of nuclear winter will propel us all into the loving arms of the all-knowing and all-everywhere G-d.


The Dead Conscience of DEM

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    His Name Was Wellstone
    By William Rivers Pitt
    t r u t h o u t | Columnist

    Thursday 01 November 2007

If we don't fight hard enough for the things we stand for, at some point we have to recognize that we don't really stand for them.

- Paul Wellstone

    Five years ago, Senator Paul Wellstone (D-Minnesota) died when his plane went down in the woods of northern Minnesota. The crash also took the lives of his wife Sheila, his daughter Marcia, campaign staffers Will McLaughlin, Tom Lapic and Mary McEvoy, along with pilots Michael Guess and Richard Conry.

    This grim remembrance is a marker for the Democratic majority in Congress, a moment for unblinking self-assessment, a chance to compare and contrast the vast gulf between who Wellstone was in life and what his party has become since his death.

    Wellstone's political life was dominated by his efforts to improve economic and social conditions for millions of Americans. He began as a community organizer during the 1970's, advocating on behalf of working families and the poor for better health care, affordable housing, better public education, day care and other essential programs and policies. Through these activities, he created a powerful network of activists, union members, farmers and other newly involved citizens.

    The effectiveness of this network made the difference in his long-shot 1990 campaign for US Senate against Rudy Boschwitz, an entrenched incumbent with far greater financial resources. Over the next twelve years, Senator Wellstone served as a tireless advocate for environmental protections, labor rights, victims of domestic violence, veterans, campaign finance reform and sensible US foreign policy.

    Wellstone's Senate career began, and tragically ended, in remarkably similar fashion. His first months in office were defined by his opposition to President George H. W. Bush's 1991 "Gulf War" against Iraq, and some twelve years later, his last weeks in office were defined by his vote against another Bush administration, and against another push for war in Iraq. On October 11, 2002, Wellstone was one of only twenty-three senators to cast a vote against the fateful Iraq War Resolution.

    The week before, on October 3, Wellstone addressed the proposed attack upon and occupation of Iraq in a speech given from the floor of the Senate. "The United States could send tens of thousands of US troops to fight in Iraq," he said, "and in so doing, we could risk countless lives of US soldiers and innocent Iraqis."

    "The United States could face soaring oil prices," he said, "and could spend billions, both on a war and on a years-long effort to stabilize Iraq after an invasion."

    "Authorizing the pre-emptive, go-it-alone use of force now," he said, "right in the midst of continuing efforts to enlist the world community to back a tough new disarmament resolution on Iraq, could be a costly mistake for our country."

    A week and a day later, the IWR passed in the Senate. Five days after that vote, it was signed into law by George W. Bush. Nine days after that signature, five years ago, Paul Wellstone was gone. His words from October 3, 2002, however, still remain. No other floor statement given by any senator before the IWR vote echoes with such prescience. Wellstone was right, and voted accordingly. He was a beacon in the darkness that has spread and spread until, five years later, this nation and the world entire have become almost completely cloaked in shadow.

    After Wellstone's death, his staff released a transcript of his last 2002 midterm election campaign commercial, which had been slated for airing just before the November vote. "I don't represent the big oil companies," said Wellstone in the ad; "I don't represent the big pharmaceutical companies, I don't represent the Enrons of this world. But you know what, they already have great representation in Washington. It's the rest of the people that need it. I represent the people of Minnesota." Little else needs to be said; his own words are more than enough.

    What can be said, on the other hand, about the Senate he served so well? What about the Democrats who now enjoy majority control but flee the very thought of representing the will of the American people? They called Wellstone "The conscience of the Senate," and that honorable title seems more true today than ever. Since that conscience died, the Democrats - time after time after time again - have performed unconscionable acts of cowardice, ambivalence and betrayal.

    "Every now and then, we are tempted to double-check that the Democrats actually won control of Congress last year," read a recent editorial from The New York Times. "It was bad enough having a one-party government when Republicans controlled the White House and both houses of Congress. But the Democrats took over, and still the one-party system continues."


    As reported by The New York Times on October 14, 2007: "The phone company Qwest Communications refused a proposal from the National Security Agency that the company's lawyers considered illegal in February 2001, nearly seven months before the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 ... documents unsealed Wednesday in federal court in Denver, first reported in The Rocky Mountain News on Thursday, claim for the first time that pressure on the company to participate in activities it saw as improper came as early as February (2001), nearly seven months before the terrorist attacks."


    The Bush administration was trying to spy on Americans back when 9-1-1 was only the telephone number for the police. Since the September 11 attacks, the administration has folded, spindled and mutilated the Constitution and Bill of Rights in a rampage of unchecked anti-American activities, ranging from illegal domestic surveillance, to legislative "signing statements" that gut the meaning from duly passed laws, to brazen defiance of legally served subpoenas, to wild-eyed arguments against gossamer FISA-court oversight of their cloak-and-dagger actions.

    The tempo of this behavior appears poised to increase. A Washington Post article titled "To Implement Policy, Bush to Turn to Administrative Orders," appropriately published on Halloween, reported that "White House aides say the only way Bush seems to be able to influence the process is by vetoing legislation or by issuing administrative orders, as he has in recent weeks on veterans' health care, air-traffic congestion, protecting endangered fish and immigration. They say they expect Bush to issue more of such orders in the next several months, even as he speaks out on the need to limit spending and resist any tax increases."

    And yet this Democratic Senate majority, with a slim few notable exceptions, fully intends to immunize the telecom companies who aided in the illegal and warrantless surveillance of Americans by Bush's big ears at NSA, thus derailing the last and best way to determine, via lawsuits and investigations, exactly how dirty the Bush administration is regarding this illegal spying program. The Democratic senators pushing hardest for telecom immunity also enjoy the financial largess of that very same industry.

    And the Democrats may not stop there.

    And that was just last week, the very week Paul Wellstone died five years before.

    Some days after Wellstone's death, his friend Tom Schraw penned an essay for The Oregonian titled "When Your Conscience Dies." In it, he wrote, "When Sen. Paul Wellstone of Minnesota died in a plane crash last week, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle described him as "the soul of the Senate." United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan described him as "a profoundly decent man, a man of principle, a man of conscience." Which leads to the question: What do you do when your soul dies, and your conscience goes away?"

    What do you do?

    According to the Democratic majority in Congress, what you do is nothing. You talk a good game and then wither away. You fold. You retreat. You whistle past the graveyard and cross your fingers. You betray the Constitution you swore to uphold. You betray the American people. You do not, under any circumstances, defy The President.

    The conscience of the Senate died five years ago. His name was Paul Wellstone. His colleagues cannot have forgotten him so soon. Let them remember.

    Let them act.

    William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: "War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know" and "The Greatest Sedition Is Silence." His newest book, "House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation," is now available from PoliPointPress.


6-Nukes Patty-Cake+Murders?

The Air Force Cover-Up of that Minot-Barksdale Nuclear Missile Flight

  Impeachment | Iran

“It makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck.”
---Pentagon official

There is something deeply disturbing about the Air Force’s official report on the Aug-29-30 “bent spear” incident that saw six nuclear warheads get mounted on six Advanced Cruise Missiles and improperly removed from a nuclear weapons storage bunker at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, then get improperly loaded on a B-52, and then get improperly flown to Barksdale AFB in Louisiana—a report that attributed the whole thing to a “mistake.”

According to the Air Force report, some Air Force personnel mounted the warheads on the missiles (which are obsolete and slated for destruction), and another ground crew, allegedly not aware that the missiles were armed with nukes, moved them out and mounted them on a launch pylon on the B-52’s wing for a flight to Barksdale and eventual dismantling. Only on the ground at Barksdale did ground crew personnel spot the nukes according to the report. (Six other missiles with dummy warheads were mounted on a pylon on the other wing of the plane.)

The problem with this explanation for the first reported case of nukes being removed from a weapons bunker without authorization in 50 years of nuclear weapons, is that those warheads, and all nuclear warheads in the US stockpile, are supposedly protected against unauthorized transport or removal from bunkers by electronic antitheft systems—automated alarms similar to those used by department stores to prevent theft, and even anti-motion sensors that go off if a weapon is touched or approached without authorization.

While the Air Force report doesn’t mention any of this, what it means is that if weapons in a storage bunker are protected against unauthorized removal, someone—and actually at least two people, since it’s long been a basic part of nuclear security that every action involving a nuclear weapon has to be done by two people working in tandem—had to deliberately and consciously disable those alarms.

Since the Air Force report does not explain how this hurdle to unauthorized removal of the six nukes could have been surmounted by “mistake,” the report has to be considered a whitewash, at best, or a cover-up.

That leaves us speculating about what actually happened, and about who might have authorized the removal of those nukes from storage, and why the Defense Department would be covering up the true story. We know that the loading of nuclear-armed missiles or bombs onto an American bomber has been barred since 1991, even for practice and training purposes. We know also that the carrying of nuclear weapons by bombers flying over US airspace has been banned for 40 years. So if the evidence suggests strongly that the removal of the nukes from the bunker was done intentionally and with some kind of authorization from higher authorities, then the loading of nukes onto the plane, and the flight of those nukes to Barksdale have to also be assumed to have been authorized.

This possibility has been dismissed out of hand by the Air Force and Defense Department. The very idea is, in fact, not even discussed in the Air force report released in mid-October.

Yet we are left with the unresolved question of how the weapons could have been moved out of the bunker accidentally.

The Air Force has not been forthcoming about the automated alarm protections on American nuclear weapons, refusing to confirm or deny that they even exist. But we can know that they are in place for several reasons. One is that since writing about this incident in the current edition of American Conservative Magazine ("The Mystery of Minot," Oct. 24, 2007 ed.) and in several online venues, I have been contacted by several active-duty and retired military people who have assured me that such electronic protections are in place. A second is that an article in the Oct. 31 issue of the New York Times, reporting on the early completion of a project by the National Nuclear Security Administration, to secure Russian nuclear weapons, said that the measures implemented at 25 classified sites on 12 Russian nuclear bases included “measures that have long been part of American efforts” to secure nuclear weapons, and that these included “alarm and motion detection systems,” as well as “modern gates, guard houses and fighting positions, “ and also “detectors for explosives, radiation and metal.”

Ask yourselves, would American nuclear weapons be equipped with lesser security systems than those that the NNSA is providing for Russian weapons?

Of course not!

And yet we’re asked to believe that some low-ranking ground crew personnel at Minot AFB simply walked out of a nuclear weapons bunker with six nuclear armed Advanced Cruise Missiles, not knowing what they were carrying, and labored for eight hours to mount those missiles and their launch pylon on the wing of a B-52 strategic bomber without ever noticing that they were armed with nuclear weapons. We’re asked to believe that none of those electronic alarms and motion sensors built into the system went off during that whole process.

When I mentioned the automated alarm and motion sensors to Lt. Col. Jennifer Cassidy, a public affairs person at the Department of the Air Force, and asked her how the movement of the six nukes could have occurred without those alarms being disabled, she said, “It’s an intriguing question, and it makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck.”

` As it should.

` So why isn’t it making the hair stand up on the back of the necks of members of Congress?

Incredibly, to date, there has been no demand for public hearings into this frightening incident.

Congress appears ready and willing to accept the Air Force whitewash at face value: It was an accident. It won’t happen again.

That is not good enough!

We need honest answers to some hard questions. Among them:

* Who disabled the alarm systems on those weapons and on the bunker itself?

* Who mounted six nuclear weapons on the noses of six cruise missiles and put those missiles onto a B-52 launch platform?

* Who authorized them to perform this operation?

* Who moved the armed weapons out of the Bunker at Minot AFB and mounted them on the wing of a B-52 bound for Barksdale AFB? (Barksdale, it should be noted, bills itself as the main staging base for B-52s being flown to the Middle East Theater.)

* Were the six missiles flyable? Were they fueled up and ready to fire, or were they not fueled at the time of the Minot-Barksdale flight?

* Was there targeting information in the missile’s guidance computers and if so, what were those targets?

* What happened to the three military whistleblowers who blew the whistle on this incident and reported it to a journalist at the newspaper Military Times?

* Why hasn’t the Air Force or the FBI investigated the 6-8 untimely deaths including three alleged suicides, one of a Minot weapons guard, one of an assistant defense secretary, and one of a captain in the super-secret Air Force Special Commando Group, as well as alleged fatal vehicle “accidents” involving four ground crew and B-52 pilots and crewmembers at Minot and Barksdale? Could any of this strange cluster of deaths have been related to the incident? The Air Force “investigation” didn’t even mention these incidents, and my investigation, reported in the Oct. 24 issue of the magazine American Conservative, found that none of the police investigators or medical examiners in those incidents had even been contacted by Air Force or other federal investigators.

The Secretary of Defense appears to have been upset about this incident. Secretary Robert Gates ordered an unprecedented stand-down of all air bases in mid-September to check out and account for the entire nuclear inventory, and a general was dispatched immediately to Minot after the discovery of the wayward nukes on August 30 to investigate what had happened. Following a subsequent Air Force investigation, 70 people at Minot and Barksdale AFBs were removed from their posts and decertified from handling nuclear weapons, including five officers, one of them the Minot base commander.

* But a base commander does not have the authority to order nuclear weapons to be loaded on a plane and flown. So who issued that order and why has no one at a senior level in Washington been sacked?

There is speculation that the order may have come via an alternate chain of command.

Vice President Dick Cheney is known to be pressing within the administration for a war with Iran, to be launched before the end President Bush’s second term of office. According to some reports, Cheney has even, on his own authority (or lack thereof), urged Israel to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, in hopes that Iran might retaliate, thus drawing the US into a war.
Could the nation’s war-mongering VP have used his neo-con contacts in the Defense Department or some of the Armageddon-believers in the Air Force to bypass the official chain of command and spring those nukes from their bunker?

Was there a plan to use one or more of those nukes—W80-1 warheads that can be calibrated to detonate with an explosive power ranging anywhere from 150 kilotons down to just 5 kilotons—against Iran? The Advanced Cruise Missile, a stealth weapon almost impossible to spot on radar, is designed to be launched from a remote location by a B-52, and then to fly close to the ground to its target, using terrain maps and GPS guidance. It is also designed to penetrate hardened sites, such as Iran’s nuclear processing and research facilities.

Or was there a plan for a so-called “false-flag incident, “where a small nuke—made to resemble a primitive weapon of the type a fledgling nuclear power might construct—might be detonated at a US target abroad, or even within the US?

These are terrible and terrifying questions to have to ask, but when you have six nuclear weapons go missing, when the military investigation into the incident is so clearly a whitewash or cover-up, and when you have a vice president who is openly pressing for an illegal war of aggression against a nation that poses no threat to the US, and who, in fact, appears to be conducting his own treacherous foreign policy behind the back of the president and the State Department, they are questions that must be asked, and that demand answers.

In a couple of weeks, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, is planning on calling for a Privilege of the House vote in Congress on moving his Cheney impeachment bill (H Res. 333) to a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee, where it has been stalled by House Democratic leaders since being filed last April 24. Such a hearing should demand answers from the vice president and his staff about his treasonous efforts to push the country into yet another war in the Middle East. It should also grill Air Force personnel about the true nature of the Minot nuclear incident.

Every member of the House of Representatives should have to take a stand on this issue.

The Democratic House leadership, under Speaker Nancy Pelosi, can be expected to try to table Kucinich’s privilege motion, which would prevent such a vote.

Americans should demand that Pelosi and other Democratic leaders let Kucinich’s privilege motion go forward, and should insist that every member of Congress put their position on the line. Every American should demand that their representative to Congress support the start of impeachment hearings on Vice President Cheney.

We need to know if the Vice President’s office was behind the flight of those six warheads.

We need to know in what other treasonous, conspiratorial actions the Vice President has been engaged in his unremitting effort to expand the war from Iraq and Afghanistan into Iran.

DAVE LINDORFF is a Philadelphia-based investigative reporter and political columnist. His latest book, co-authored by Barbara Olshansky, is “The Case for Impeachment” (St. Martin’s Press, 2006). His work is available at


Straitjacket Bush--or-Impeachment

Straitjacket Bush,0,810778.column?coll=la-news-columns

The president's warmongering remarks on the Iranian threat suggest he is psychotic. Really.
October 25, 2007

Forget impeachment.

Liberals, put it behind you. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney shouldn't be treated like criminals who deserve punishment. They should be treated like psychotics who need treatment.

Because they've clearly gone mad. Exhibit A: We're in the middle of a disastrous war in Iraq, the military and political situation in Afghanistan is steadily worsening, and the administration's interrogation and detention tactics have inflamed anti-Americanism and fueled extremist movements around the globe. Sane people, confronting such a situation, do their best to tamp down tensions, rebuild shattered alliances, find common ground with hostile parties and give our military a little breathing space. But crazy people? They look around and decide it's a great time to start another war.

That would be with Iran, and you'd have to be deaf not to hear the war drums. Last week, Bush remarked that "if you're interested in avoiding World War III . . . you ought to be interested in preventing [Iran] from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon." On Sunday, Cheney warned of "the Iranian regime's efforts to destabilize the Middle East and to gain hegemonic power . . . [we] cannot stand by as a terror-supporting state fulfills its most aggressive ambitions." On Tuesday, Bush insisted on the need "to defend Europe against the emerging Iranian threat."

Huh? Iran is now a major threat to Europe? The Iranians are going to launch a nuclear missile (that they don't yet possess) against Europe (for reasons unknown because, as far as we know, they're not mad at anyone in Europe)? This is lunacy in action.

Writing in Newsweek on Oct. 20, Fareed Zakaria, a solid centrist and former editor of Foreign Affairs, put it best. Citing Bush's invocation of "the specter of World War III if Iran gained even the knowledge needed to make a nuclear weapon," Zakaria concluded that "the American discussion about Iran has lost all connection to reality. . . . Iran has an economy the size of Finland's. . . . It has not invaded a country since the late 18th century. The United States has a GDP that is 68 times larger and defense expenditures that are 110 times greater. Israel and every Arab country (except Syria and Iraq) are . . . allied against Iran. And yet we are to believe that Tehran is about to overturn the international system and replace it with an Islamo-fascist order? What planet are we on?"

Planet Cheney.

Zakaria may be misinterpreting the president's remark about World War III though. He saw it as a dangerously loopy Bush prediction about the future behavior of a nuclear Iran -- the idea being, presumably, that possessing "the knowledge" to make a nuclear weapon would so empower Iran's repressive leaders that they'll giddily rush out and start World War III.

But you could read Bush's remark as a madman's threat rather than a madman's prediction -- as a warning to recalcitrant states, from Germany to Russia, that don't seem to share his crazed obsession with Iran. The message: Fall into line with administration policy toward Iran or you can count on the U.S.A. to try to start World War III on its own. And when it comes to sparking global conflagration, a U.S. attack on Iran might be just the thing. Yee haw!

You'd better believe these guys would do it too. Why not? They have nothing to lose -- they're out of office in 15 months anyway. Après Bush-Cheney, le déluge! (Have fun, Hillary.)

But all this creates a conundrum. What's a constitutional democracy to do when the president and vice president lose their marbles?

The U.S. is full of ordinary people with serious forms of mental illness -- delusional people with violent fantasies who think they're the president, or who think they get instructions from the CIA through their dental fillings.

The problem with Bush is that he is the president -- and he gives instructions to the CIA and military, without having to go through his dental fillings.

Impeachment's not the solution to psychosis, no matter how flagrant. But despite their impressive foresight in other areas, the framers unaccountably neglected to include an involuntary civil commitment procedure in the Constitution.

Still, don't lose hope. By enlisting the aid of mental health professionals and the court system, Congress can act to remedy that constitutional oversight. The goal: Get Bush and Cheney committed to an appropriate inpatient facility, where they can get the treatment they so desperately need. In Washington, the appropriate statutory law is already in place: If a "court or jury finds that [a] person is mentally ill and . . . is likely to injure himself or other persons if allowed to remain at liberty, the court may order his hospitalization."

I'll even serve on the jury. When it comes to averting World War III, it's really the least I can do.

Empty-Headed Bunk Dispenser-Dispensationalists

Dispensationalists find peace in the Middle East troubling

highlights added to article:

Peace in the Middle East Is the Will of the Anti-Christ,
Not Jesus Christ

(so think dispensationalists)

by Bill Barnwell

While most people would consider the prospect of peace in the Middle East to be a good thing, there are many who find the idea of earthly peace between Jews and Arabs to be of evil origins.

Who are the people that get immediately worried or suspicious upon hearing of peace treaties or proposals between Jews and Arabs? Are they members of a hate group of some sort? Violent organizations who promote international chaos? No, ironically enough, it is a large segment of Evangelical and Fundamentalist Christians known as "dispensationalists."

Dispensationalists will cry foul regarding the above statement. They will say that they regularly "pray for the peace of Jerusalem" (Psalm 122:6). They’ll respond that they abhor unnecessary violence and that they desire for all people to follow the "Prince of Peace" Jesus Christ. And on those points they are sincere. However, these sentiments aside, whether they know it or not, their theology makes it a Biblical mandate for there to be continuing bloodshed and violence in the Middle East until the time of the "anti-Christ." The only earthly peace that will be brought to the Middle East this side of the Second Coming will be a false peace from the Antichrist, who will later torture Jews and converted Christians during the "Great Tribulation." Thus, "Bible prophecy" calls for this horrific scenario. There is no way around it. Any lasting or meaningful peace in the Middle East generally, and between Jews and Palestinians particularly, is folly and unbiblical. The only future Biblical peace between modern Israel and her enemies will be a false peace that is brought by the antichrist at the start of the supposed seven year "Tribulation" period that will precede Christ’s Second Coming.

During the first 3.5 years, the antichrist will honor his treaty with Israel. But in the second 3.5-year period, he will break the covenant and desecrate the rebuilt Temple of the Jews and exalt himself as God. (Dispensationalists further believe that for end-time events to accelerate, modern Jews must rebuild a Temple to perform animal sacrifices for the people’s sins. It is these sacrifices that the "Antichrist" will supposedly put an end to when he takes over the Temple. Furthermore, the Temple must be rebuilt on or near the location of Islam’s third holiest site, the Al-Aqsa Mosque. This alone would ignite a regional if not world war. And can you imagine the howling from animal rights activists if religious Jews began sacrificing animals again in mass numbers?)

The idea of a seven-year tribulation, brought on by an "Antichrist" who makes and breaks a covenant with the modern nation of Israel is supported by only one verse in the entire Bible: Daniel 9:27 (the book of Revelation never mentions a 7-year period. It mentions a 3.5-year period multiple times that if added up would yield a much longer period of duration). There is no other passage in Scripture that dispensationalists can point to that indicates the "Antichrist" is going to make or break a covenant with modern Israel. It all comes down to Daniel 9:27. Unfortunately for dispensationalism, Daniel 9:27 is likely referencing events that have long since been fulfilled. According to dispensationalists this verse is totally disconnected from the verses that precede it. But to make this work, you have to insert a 2000+ year imaginary gap between verses 26 and 27.

But there are plenty of problems with the "Left Behind" view of Dan. 9:27. Let's take a look at some of them. According to the Dispensational View: a. Verses 24–26 describe the coming of Jesus (The "Anointed One") 483 years after the rebuilding of Jerusalem. Jesus is the one "cut off" in verse 26, referring to his crucifixion. b. The "people of the ruler" in vs. 26 are referring to those who came and destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple in 70AD. However, the Ruler (Antichrist) himself did not make an appearance then and doesn’t until the indefinite future, whenever verse 27 begins. c. There is a massive gap of time between verses 26 and 27. God’s "prophetic time clock" has stopped now that we are in the "church age." d. Verse 27 describes a future antichrist who will come on the world stage (soon!). The covenant is a covenant of the antichrist. The "many" whom he makes the covenant with are the Jewish people of modern Israel, which he will later break. e. By the time verse 27 happens there will be a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem with resumed animal sacrifices. In the middle of the last "week" (seven-year period) the antichrist will desecrate the Temple, break his covenant with the Jewish people, and thus will begin the "Great Tribulation" which they correspond with Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21, 2 Thessalonians 2, and Revelation 6–19. There are so many problems with this interpretation that you almost need a small book to deal with each of them. I have, however, highlighted some of the major faults in the dispensational view of Daniel 9:27 here.

In a nutshell, for all the talk from dispensationalists about how they interpret the Bible "literally," there is nothing literal about the above interpretation. For one, there’s nothing in the text implicitly or explicitly referring to a halting of "God’s prophetic time clock." There’s nothing that suggests a gap of over 2000 years between verses 26 and 27. There’s no reason to assume that the word "many" equals the modern nation state of Israel (though the New Testament does talk about Christ making a covenant with "many" and Christ putting an end to sacrifice and offerings). There’s nothing here or anywhere in the New Testament about "rebuilding the Temple." Where the apostle Paul talks about the "man of sin" exalting himself in "God’s Temple" (2 Thess. 2:4) we have other issues to consider. First of all, in every other instance where Paul uses the word "temple" in his writings it’s never in reference to the literal brick and stone Temple where ancient Jews performed sacrifices and which was destroyed by the Romans in 70AD. Paul always uses the word "temple" metaphorically referring to such things as the body of individual Christians and the Church on a whole (and always uses the Greek word naos which allows for a figurative rendering of Temple. Jesus Himself uses it when He calls Himself the Temple in John 2:19). Traditionally, Christians from various traditions simply saw this verse referring to a heretical leader who tries to usurp God’s proper place and authority in the Church and society. It’s for this reason that many earlier Protestants believed that the Catholic Pope was the antichrist, since they saw him as trying to take the place of God inside the "temple" of Christendom. However, this view has also mostly and rightfully gone out of favor as it has many exegetical problems of its own. Either way, it wasn’t until relatively recently in theological history that Christians believed that a new brick and mortar Temple needed to be built to satisfy 2 Thessalonians 2:4 and that this verse was cut and pasted next to Daniel 9:27. Dispensationalists are unaware of the fact that traditionally Daniel 9:27 was seen as being historically exhausted either during the intertestamental era or at 70AD when the Temple was profaned and Jerusalem destroyed. Likewise, Jesus’ reference to the "abomination of desolation" in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21, where he harkens back to Daniel 9:27, was also seen as being historically fulfilled in 70AD when the Temple and Jerusalem were destroyed. These events were fulfilled within a generation of the lifetime of His disciples (Matthew 24:34). Note: in every other instance in the gospels where Jesus uses the phrase "this generation," He is always referring to his contemporaries. This view also best fits the context of Matthew 24:15 and its cognate verses in Mark and Luke. Today this view of prophetic events is making a comeback. It is called "partial preterism." Preterism basically means "fulfilled in the past." Partial preterists believe there are still future prophetic events that must transpire. But they also believe many prophetic events that dispensationalists believe are unfulfilled have in fact been fulfilled. This is not a "new teaching" as many dispensationalists are led to believe. They only think this because they’ve never been exposed to another view. It’s actually a much, much older teaching than anything they’ve been taught on subjects like Daniel 9:27. The reality is that throughout church history, the vast majority of Church Fathers and commentators and expositors – from all branches of Christianity (including Protestantism) – were to varying degrees what we would anachronistically call "partial-preterists." The view of "full preterism" that all prophecy has been fulfilled (including the Second Coming and the resurrection!) has its adherents, but it, like dispensationalism is only a recent invention historically speaking. Dispensationalism, with its pre-tribulational rapture, rebuilt temple, two people’s of God, etc., only dates back to the 19th century.

As you read this, you have to ask yourself why dispensationalists have made complicated and isolated verses like Daniel 9:27 the interpretive framework for the entire book of Revelation and their end-time scenarios and charts! Therefore, much rests on these interpretive discussions since people’s very theology and political opinions are formed based upon them. Hence the most important point to take home from this article: People’s beliefs about the future impact the way they live and think in the present. While many get frustrated with these discussions and just throw up their hands and say, "Look, all I know is that Jesus is coming again, that’s good enough for me!" such sentiments ignore what is at stake in the here and now because of these debates about the future. Because if dispensationalism is correct:      1. The only meaningful peace in the near-future for Jews and Arabs will be brought about by the "Antichrist," and this peace itself will turn out to be a sham peace. Any other peace not brought forth by the "Antichrist" is utterly doomed to fail since God has already decreed that the region must be marred by violence and that the "Antichrist" must bring his false peace. Therefore, if events transpired that did bring about an improvement in relations between Jews and Arabs that was not prompted by the "Antichrist" then that throws the entire prophetic system off and discredits dispensationalism. Thus, chaos must be the norm in Israel and the Middle East until the rise of the "Antichrist."      2. A literal brick and stone sacrificial Temple must be rebuilt. And it must be built where Islam’s third holiest site currently stands. It may be unfortunate that tearing down the Al-Aqsa mosque would cause mass bloodshed in the Middle East and result in global instability. Bible prophecy demands it.      3. Jews must go back to sacrificing animals in large numbers, even though this idea is completely foreign and contradictory to the entire New Testament, including all NT sections that address or mention those of ethnic Jewish descent.     4. Two thirds of Jews must perish in the "Great Tribulation" at the hands of the "Antichrist" (this view is wrongly supported from Zechariah 13:8–9. These verses also were traditionally seen as being fulfilled when 1,000,000 Jews actually did die when Jerusalem was destroyed in the first century. When you also take into account the 20th century holocaust, one must ask why so many fundamentalists and Evangelicals can say they "support" Israel when they believe most Jews will be exterminated in the future in an even worse and bloodier holocaust – supposedly ordained by God).     5. God (and by implication us) must desire the Middle East and world on a whole to deteriorate until He steps in to do anything about it. Thus, Christians are fighting a losing battle when they promote any kind of lasting peace between Jews and Palestinians.

Dispensationalists will rightly object that the world will never be perfect as long as man is in charge. That is correct. But just because that is the case it does not mean that we should actively promote the world falling into further disarray and chaos. Just because humanity on its own cannot bring a perfect and final peace does not mean it should promote perpetual war and bloodshed. Sadly, whether they know it or not, many well-meaning fundamentalists and evangelical are doing just that. All in the name of "Bible prophecy." Thankfully Christians do not have to let this self-fulfilling prophecy become a reality. Peace need not be viewed as an antichristic notion. It is indeed a Godly notion.

August 1, 2007
Bill Barnwell [send him mail] is a pastor and writer from Michigan. He holds both a Master of Ministry degree and a Master of Arts in Theological Studies degree from Bethel College in Mishawaka, Indiana. Visit his blog. Bill is also a Mortgage Consultant and Loan Originator who can serve clients throughout the country.

If most people who consider themselves 'christian' actually read their Bibles and knew the context of the prophetic books, dispensationalism would have a tough road to travel.
It's been very sad to me to observe what dispensationalists/christianZionists have supported the last 4-5 years.

If only there were someone on earth today with the absolute authority and courage to drive the merchandisers out of 'the temple'(s). It's time to clear the extraneous and the patched together jumble of doctrine that makes it okay for anyone to claim to be more 'chosen' and use that as a 'free pass' to accomplish whatever ends they wish to use it to accomplish.
May the light of truth shine through the fog and darkness of bad doctrine before millions more are ruined by it.

moralsurgeon - provided no writing here- just the red highlights-&exasperated URL title-


How Much 4That FISA in the Window?

hungry for crooks?  read

Fred Hiatt's concern over "costly litigation" for AT&T and Verizon

(updated below)

Of all the dumb and dishonest arguments in favor of telecom amnesty -- and there are many -- the dumbest and most dishonest is that it is unfair to subject telecoms to the "high costs" of defending against these lawsuits. It should come as no surprise, then, that this is the principal argument The Washington Post's Fred Hiatt advances today in his latest call for telecom amnesty:

As we have said, we do not believe that these companies should be held hostage to costly litigation in what is essentially a complaint about administration activities.
In 2005, the total revenue of Verizon -- from telephone services alone -- was $75 billion. ATT's total 2006 revenue was $63 billion. Whatever the "costs" of defending these lawsuits are, it is a minscule -- really undetectable -- amount to these companies. Whatever the telecoms' motives are in wanting amnesty for their lawbreaking, being relieved from "costly litigation" has nothing to do with it.

Trite pseudo-populist rhetoric about the "high costs" of litigation might work when it comes to lawsuits against small businesses or individuals. There, attorneys fees and other expenses really do make lawsuits expensive to defend. But they still have to go to court to prove they did nothing wrong. That is what it means to live under "the rule of law."

And telecom lawsuits could be "costly" if telecoms are found -- without any good faith basis -- to have broken the law and/or violated the constitutional rights of their customers. But to claim that telecoms like AT&T or Verizon -- whose revenues are measured in the tens of billions of dollars -- care in the slightest about "litigation costs" from a single set of lawsuits is just preposterous, really just a stupid thing to say.

These telecoms have been participating in this "costly litigation" for the last two years and they seem to be managing:

SAN ANTONIO, Oct. 23, 2007 -- AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) today posted strong third-quarter results and delivered its tenth consecutive quarter of double-digit growth in adjusted earnings per share. Results included an increase in wireless subscribers of 2.0 million, further advances in enterprise business trends and accelerated expansion of AT&T's next-generation TV service.

"We delivered an excellent third quarter," said Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman and chief executive officer. "Revenue growth continues to ramp, merger integration is on track, adjusted earnings and free cash flow are both strong." . . . .

AT&T reported third-quarter revenues of $30.1 billion, up from $15.6 billion in the year-earlier quarter, prior to its Dec. 29, 2006 acquisition of BellSouth Corporation and the accompanying consolidation of wireless results.

Believing that the costs of litigation are relevant in the slightest to corporations like AT&T and Verizon -- as Hiatt obviously does, or at least pretends to -- is to display exactly the lack of Seriousness and Sophistication which The Washington Post Editorial Page believes itself to embody. That is additionally demonstrated by the fact that the lead counsel pursuing the case against these telecoms is a small non-profit organization with a tiny budget staffed by under-paid lawyers devoted to privacy rights and the rule of law.

And all of that is to say nothing about the snide characterization from Hiatt that these lawsuits are nothing more than "a complaint about administration activities." The lawsuits allege that telecoms violated multiple federal laws directed at telecoms that were enacted as a result of the discoveries by the Church Commission of massive invasions of the privacy rights of American citizens and decades-long abuses of surveillance powers by the Government. At least theoretically, there is still a distinction in the U.S. between the Government and corporations. Corporations do not have license to break the law because the President tells them to. Isn't it unbelievable that this even needs to be pointed out at all?

As the lead counsel in the AT&T case, Cindy Cohn, explained in the interview I conducted with her two weeks ago:

We brought the case only against AT&T because AT&T has an independent duty to you, its customers, to protect your privacy. This is a very old duty, and if you know the history of the FISA law, you'll know that it was adopted as a result of some very deep work done by the Church Committee in Congress, that revealed that Western Union and the telegraph companies were making a copy of all telegraphs going into and outside the U.S. and delivering them to the Government.

So this was one of the big outrages uncovered by the Church Committee -- in addition to the rampant surveillance of people like Martin Luther King.

As a result of this, Congress very wisely decided that it wasn't sufficient to simply prevent the Government from listening in on your calls - they had to create an independent duty for the telecom carries not to participate in illegal surveillance.

So they are strictly forbidden from handing over your communications and communications records to the Government without proper legal process.

In a civilized society that lives under "the rule of law," there is no such thing as a defense of: "I broke the law because I was told to." That has sort of been a basic tenet of justice in the Western World for quite some time now. In the United States, the President does not have the power to direct private actors to break the law. Think about how rancid and venal our political and media elite are that these basic principles even need to be stated, let alone defended from a full-scale assault.

* * * 

A general update on the campaign to stop telecom amnesty is here.

UPDATE: Several commenters have suggested that net income is a more meaningful barometer than gross revenues for determining the impact of litigation costs. Fair enough. AT&T's pre-tax net income in 2006 was $10.8 billion, and after-tax income was $7.3 billion. After law school, I was a litigator at the highest-charging corporate law firm in the country, and the absolute most I ever saw a single set of cases generate in fees was $1 million per month -- during the months when the litigation was fully active (which is rare). And even in the most intensely fought cases among the largest corporations, the fees were almost always substantially less than that.

In the NSA cases, AT&T is being represented by Sidley & Austin (.pdf), a large, fairly standard corporate law firm. Because there are multiple telecoms as defendants in these suits, the litigation costs, in some respects, end up being shared. Even assuming that these cases are generating unusually high fees, and even using net income as the standard, the "litigation costs" to telecoms is completely negligible. It does not even show up on the financial radar. If the non-profit EFF can manage to prosecute these lawsuits, AT&T and Verizon can obviously easily defend them (and indeed, it is almost certainly the case that the litigation costs borne by these litigious corporations from the lawsuits they commence against others vastly outweigh the costs they are incurring from defending the illegal surveillance suits).

The real point, of course, is that corporations -- just as is true for ordinary citizens and small companies -- can dramatically reduce their chances of being subjected to long, protracted litigation by obeying the law. Hiatt's rationale -- it's so unfair to make these poor corporations endure the costs of litigation -- would "justify" granting general amnesty to corporations for all illegal behavior, i.e., it would eviscerate the rule of law. We want there to be a price to pay when private actors violate the law. But the "price" which AT&T, Verizon and others are paying from "litigation costs" is so miniscule that to cite it as a reason to give amnesty is either incredibly ignorant or purposefully dishonest.

-- Glenn Greenwald


Demonstrating the increasing significance of these efforts, Chris Dodd has now been invited to appear this Sunday on Meet the Press, where he will be the only guest for the entire hour. His stance in defending the Constitution generally, and his specific efforts to stop telecom amnesty and warrantless eavesdropping, will undoubtedly be a major topic (see Dodd's superb Senate floor speech this week on these issues here).


As things stand, the FISA bill is currently in the Senate Judiciary Committee where Chairman Pat Leahy, at least thus far, is reportedly committed to stripping the amnesty provision out of the bill. Having this bill come to the floor without amnesty in it would force the Republicans to offer it as an amendment and would mean they would need 60 votes specifically in favor of amnesty in order to put it back in (because Dodd would filibuster any such amendment).

That is much harder to accomplish than having the bill reach the floor with amnesty already in it and then have to drum up 60 votes for the bill generally. Thus, the key right now is the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Dodd's website is the place to go to find out how to keep up the pressure there, completely with a current whip count of Committee members who are for or against amnesty.

Finally, there seems to be this notion even among members of Congress in their more enlightened moments that amnesty ought to be considered if the White House finally agrees to show them documents -- regarding the "legal justifications" for warrantless eavesdropping and the "rationale" for the telecoms' actions -- which they have been concealing thus far. But this claim makes no sense on multiple levels.

First, as Marty Lederman notes, the White House's willingness to disclose these documents in exchange for promises to vote for amnesty -- i.e., their use of these documents as political leverage -- demonstrates that there is no valid rationale, and never has been, for refusing to turn them over to Congress. Why would Congressional Democrats agree to give up something so extraordinary (telecom immunity) in exchange for the White House's "agreeing" to do what it is required in any event to do -- namely, comply with Congressional oversight demands for these documents?

Secondly, as any litigator will tell you, when you allow one party in possession of all documents voluntarily to show you the ones they want -- while concealing others -- the only picture you get is a distorted, biased and one-sided picture. The only mechanism for actually getting the truth is to compel the White House to turn over all documents, not to have Senators make a pilgrimage to the White House to look at the ones the White House has specially selected for them.

Finally, and most importantly, if it is really true that these magic documents show how innocent and reasonable were the telecoms' actions, then they will win in court. FISA and other statutes already provide immunity for them if they acted in good faith. There is no reason for Congress to put itself in the position of judge in this matter -- there already is a real judge in a real court presiding over these cases.

If the secret documents which Dick Cheney is magnanimously agreeing to share are really as exculpatory as Cheney's good friend Jay Rockefeller claims, then the telecoms will win in court and all will be good in the Republic once again. The better the secret magic documents are for the telecoms, the less is the need for amnesty.

Granting amnesty to telecoms all because Dick Cheney showed Congress a handful of carefully selected documents which he is required to show them anyway is nothing more than an exercise in deceit -- enabling Congressional Democrats to claim that they went along with amnesty only because they "forced" the administration into this meaningless "concession." If Congressional Democrats end up voting for amnesty, nobody should be the slightest bit fooled by what will be their claim that they did so only because they stood firm and "forced" the White House to show them these documents.


Additionally, Obama’s campaign has been sending the following statement via e-mail to anyone who inquired and/or complained about his original FISA statement:

Thank you for contacting me about the proposed legislation to give phone companies legal immunity for past wiretapping. I share your strong opposition to this proposal.

I have consistently opposed this Administration’s efforts to use debates about our national security to expand its own power, whether that was on the Iraq war, or on its power grab to curb our civil liberties through domestic surveillance programs. It is time to restore oversight and accountability in the FISA program, and this proposal — with an unprecedented grant of retroactive immunity — is not the place to start.

This Administration has put forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we demand. When I am president, there will be no more illegal wire-tapping of American citizens. No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime. No more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war. Our Constitution works, and so does the FISA court. By working with Congress and respecting our courts, I will provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track and take out the terrorists without undermining our Constitution and our freedom.

That is a solid, principled statement and a clear list of commitments on constitutional and rule of law issues (contrast that with this interview which Clinton gave to Michael Tomasky in which Clinton, when asked about the series of Bush executive power abuses, can bring herself only to promise that she’s “gonna have to review everything they’ve done” — the same worthless “study” language she included in her FISA statement last night).

Finally, Chris Dodd continues to back up his pretty words with actions — which, at this point, is all that really matters. His campaign provides here instructions for calling the key Judiciary Committee members (along with a “citizen-generated whip count” to keep track of each member’s position on amnesty), along with detailed instructions outlining his plan to stop it.

The statements from Richardson and Obama today were both encouraging, but statements, at the point where we are, are simply not enough. As Atrios said today:

Of the presidential candidates, some currently hold office (Senate: Dodd, Obama, Clinton, Biden; House: Kucinich; Governor: Richardson) and some don’t (Edwards, Gravel ).

For the ones who actually hold office I’ve been much more interested in what they do as officeholders than what they do as candidates. They all say they’re great leaders, but some of them currently have the office, stature, and especially for Clinton and Obama, the hefty soapbox from which they can actually … lead. They have the power to take something which is an issue right now and run with it, instead of thinking about all the wonderfully yummy things they’ll do… if they win… 15 months from now.

Most Senate Democrats voted “the right way” on the Military Commissions Act, but they failed and refused to play any meaningful role in the debate, even failing to speak out against it until the very last day, by which point passage was ensured. “Leadership” requires much, more more than obligatorily issued statements and meaningless votes cast on the “right side” that can be touted in a campaign. That is what is being sought, and — by leading the filibuster and speaking out aggressively on the evils of amnesty — it is what Dodd has been providing. It isn’t too late for the other candidates to do so, too. These efforts are about encouraging that to happen.

The next step of our campaign — to be launched over the next couple of days — will be directed at Harry Reid and several other key Senators. Reid, in particular, has an obligation to lead here and speak out in support of the filibuster in light of his previous failure even to indicate that he will extend basic Senatorial courtesy by honoring Dodd’s hold.

The most significant and encouraging aspect of all of this, by far, has been that all of this has happened solely because tens of thousands of people devoted to the rule of law and our basic Constitutional liberties have demanded it. That has single-handedly catalyzed Dodd’s leadership, compelled the other candidates to speak out against amnesty, and has forced attention to be paid to these issues. That progress — all achieved in barely a single week — is significant and should not be overlooked [except it might  have not occurred without an underdog's need to shine /js.]

– Glenn Greenwald

« Minimization, the Whitehouse Way | Main | Update on Gaming Intelligence to Justify War »

October 27, 2007  The Dodge on Retroactive Immunity

by emptywheel

.../...   [much  good stuff... but These comments with crapheaded delineation probably supersede them]

They acted illegally more than 60 days.
They acted illegally and circumvented existing FISA law until January 2007.
Goldsmith told them the program was illegal in March 2004, and Comey, with Ashcroft's backing, refused to continue to allow DOJ to sign off on the illegal program. Instead, Gonzales signed off on the illegal program. This deliberately illegal period (where they had been told by the OLC and DOJ that the program was illegal) lasted for a period of "less than 60 days", then they apparently changed the program in some way to get the DOJ mutineers back on board.
They were illegal before March 10, 2004, flagrantly and knowingly illegal for 60 days thereafter, and probably illegal until they started using FISA again. Then FISA told them they were still illegal. So they had a tantrum and got congress to change the law. They are now trying to get immunity for the TelCos, but in reality, the immunity is for their sorry, illegal asses.

But make no mistake, the illegality was longer than the "less than 60 days".
TelCo immunity is essentially a sorry place to make a stand. It is jailing the hit men while the Don goes free. We need to go after the criminals who compelled the TelCos to collaborate with "presidential authorization". I hope that SJC will make a stand; the SSCI could just be a pass to let the matter get escalated in a more favorable venue. I have to believe that Whitehouse is playing smart. I have seen nothing else to suggest otherwise. Unfortunately, if it slips through SJC, immunity for everyone will likely be a done deal.      Posted by: drational | October 27, 2007 at 23:49

Cowed and Caving: The Democrats' Logo Forever

I think it's important, and I haven't seen EW address this directly, to underscore that State Secrets, the politics of redaction, and selective leaks are certainly not just a Republican MO. The democrats have been doing this consistently in the 109th and 110th Congress.

All of us are pretty interested and good at finding media sources. Some of you, particularly the ones who live in and around DC or used to, ya know who ya are--former US Attorneys in the DC area like Christy or former Congressional and Senate staffers who are attorneys are aren't but know all the kabuki dances around the cloakroom--how to avoid a hearing--how to avoid a markup, etc. etc.

What's struck me consistently is that I haven't gone down as many "dead end roads" since I was 16 and got my driver's license. Then I wanted to see where all the roads around my city led to, and I didn't have to ask anyone to do my exploring.

Every time I want to know what the hell is going on, I'm hit with a dead end sign that says "We'll discuss this in closed session." Nearly anything substantive is discussed in closed session. The Bushies of course selectively leak to the point of one big tautology, and the dems have done zip over diddly zip to stop them.

There's been a lot of ponderin' on Retroactive Immunity, and just as bad the enigma enshrounded in a mystery of SSCI's pathetic bill where it's left up to the AG to decide--not Congress--not the Courts whether there is any reason to call anything a violation--and baby not any AG you're ever going to see will--I don't give a damn who is in the white house (the Democrats went down faster than Pam Anderson in the back seat of a car after a high school football game and they always frigging do.

The government's arguments in the 9th Circuit State Secret cases against the Telcos has been pathetically stupid and one of the panel correctly invoked Alice in Wonderland at the last day of two oral arguments.

Again, again, the bottom line is I don't care who fillibusters and it's pathetic that it only seems to be Dodd--possibly Joe Biden willing to--but ya gotta have 60 votes to invoke cloture and with all the democratic defector sell outs the Administration has that as a slam dunk. This party's way over and the fat lady sang long ago.

Since as everyone knows, most of the switching and circuitry for any of these calls is located in the US I don't care what Mickey Mouse distinctions are made about calls overseas to and from yada yada and yada, your ass is tapped now and it's going to continue to be because your democrats have been completely cowed--completely runnover by the politics of fear. It is the one infrastructural mantra of the republicans. I see it constantly from the Bush administration, and I see it from Republicans on the local level.

The Rove email has gone out--use fear, fear and more fear. This weekend, in Georgia, in a case that caught national attention the Georgia Supreme Court freed a kid kept in prison 2 years serving a 10 year sentence for oral consensual sex. The Republicans in that legislature blocked retroactivity on a "Romeo and Juliet" change in the law that made oral sex in a country where the average age of first intercourse is about 14 a misdemeanor. They stupidly did not make the law retroactive for no good reason. but here's the one the Republicans gave then and yesterday. The Senate leader said "Everyone should be scared to death and more afraid than on Halloween that hundreds of sex predators would be roaming the streets now because of this opninion." This is an intentional lie on both the facts and the law by an individual who lies nearly every time he opens his mouth. A handful of cases will be impacted where the consensual sex in minors 13-15 is "no more than 4 years difference in age." It has nothing to do with sexual predators.

But look what all the Republican fear mongers immediately invoked: "Hannibal Lecter is out there and he's gonna get ya because of a liberal decision."

It may be simplistic analysis but it's accurate. I would like to have anyone show me one good reason why this horrible Surveillance update is not a slam dunk done deal. It is because the Democrats will not lift a finger to meaningfully oppose it. Like lemmings, they can't wait to follow the Republican lead into the sea running from the bogey man.

Steny Hoyer, Pelosi, Schumer, Emanuel, the biggest cipher Specter, Feinstein who to me is Leiberman in frumpy drag, every one of them is cowed and caving. I'll repeat, if you want to characterize the Democrats in the House and the Senate they are cowed and caving at all times.

So here's what you can count on in the final analysis besides no sustained fillibuster on the Telco bill:

No significant resistance to the politics of fear pushed incessantly by the Republicans. It's working beautifully for them. They get whatever the hell they want.

The Democrats can't cave fast enough, quickly asking if they can "have another one."

In the category of the only things the Republicans don't continue to control for lack of a conviction in the Democrats (and a spine):

.../...The four day work week is back in with the blessing of the Democrats who want to corporate jet out of there on Wednesday and Thursday.  // Posted by: Pete Pierce | October 28, 2007 at 03:07


If you want to follow individual Committee or House and Senate votes, WaPo has this site:
Vote Database

-Pete Pierce -Thank you for your honesty. As you say, the game is up. I waste so much of my precious time worrying about when honesty and true government will be returned to us that it sometimes makes me sick in the stomach, and certainly in my emotions. The answer is never. The system is broken, debauched, and is in its end state. All that remains is the long wake and the eventual funeral. In the meantime everything else we depend on for our wellbeing is like an old, broken down car that keeps getting worse and worse and worse until it too finally and completely collapses. // Posted by: agincour | October 28, 2007 at 06:32


1. Keep in mind that Judge Taylor, in one of the only rulings “on the facts” to date,.../..

2. While normally ex post facto discussions wouldn’t be very applicable to an amnesty approach, the FISA legislation created not just a criminal aspect, but a civil cause of action and penalty..../...

.../...4. There is something very off about either what the committee is saying or Comey’s testimony (or both).

COMEY: I believed so.

SPECTER: Then it was going forward illegally.

COMEY: Well, the only reason I hesitate is that I'm no presidential scholar.
But if a determination was made by the head of the executive branch that some conduct was appropriate, that determination -- and lawful -- that determination was binding upon me, even though I was the acting attorney general, as I understand the law.

The point that I'm trying to determine here is that it was going forward even though it was illegal.

COMEY: The reason I hesitate is I don't know that the Department of Justice's certification was required by statute -- in fact, it was not, as far as I know -- or by regulation, but that it was the practice in this particular program, when it was renewed, that the attorney general sign off as to its legality.

There was a signature line for that. And that was the signature line on which was adopted for me, as the acting attorney general, and that I would not sign.

So it wasn't going forward in violation of any -- so far as I know -- statutory requirement that I sign off.

SPECTER: Well, Mr. Comey, on a matter of this importance, didn't you feel it necessary to find out if there was a statute which required your certification or a regulation which required your certification or something more than just a custom?

COMEY: Yes, Senator. And I...

SPECTER: Did you make that determination?

COMEY: Yes, and I may have understated my knowledge. I'm quite certain that there wasn't a statute or regulation that required it, but that it was the way in which this matter had operated since the beginning.

Ok, I’m not the biggest Comey fan around, but I do think he was trying to be forthright and relatively forthcoming at the hearing and I also think he’s not an idiot. And despite the elbows he takes, Specter isn’t an idiot. IMO, this was some of the most important questioning they had, given the telecom statutes and telecom issues.

Something’s very rotten.  // Posted by: Mary | October 28, 2007 at 11:33

I wanted to leave some helpful links for the curious. One is a CDT-EFF amici brief in the 2006 TX case regarding the controversy in the narrow domain of post cut-through dialed digits; as usual with a thorough court brief, much value is available in the elaborated case history and footnoting. Another time machine glimpse is a cameo interchange among principals including Sen.Leahy and Gperson agency leader Freeh in 1994 there, in a composite hearing of both chambers' telco oversight committees. // Posted by: John Lopresti | October 28, 2007 at 14:39


Dismayed - I have the same frustrations every hour of every day. Government is broken right now. I disagree that any of the mechanisms are gone though; they are there, just un-utilized, under-utilized or misused. The path back, and really the only path back is us, the people, as a collective. A social awakening to our history, our foundation, what the principles stand for and why, and how the actions of the past 25 or so years, but especially the last 7 years, have lessened our standing and value as a country and as a people. You have to want good government, and be willing to sacrifice and work for it; americans have come to be deluded with self perfection and that the social fabric of our society comes not only free, but with a tax cut. That is not the case.

Phred - "Color of Law" is simply a term of art in the legal field that means the appearance or presumption of legal authority. For instance, a police officer may, in his duties, commit an act that is illegal; but he is presumed to be acting under the "color of law" because he is a lawfully appointed peace officer. // Posted by: bmaz | October 28, 2007 at 21:02

So here we have telcos and rethugs pushing for immunity, but from what? Will someone please tell me why congress doesn't pull a few of these cats in for questioning in exchange for immunity. I suppose the executive would block that under state secrets.

Which brings us back to impeachment. Right? At this point it's abundantly clear that the law was broken. Is no one interested in enforcing the law? This just continues to boggle my mind. Government really is very broken at the moment. Where's the path back.

Dismayed, I share your frustration, but I don't think our focus on the rule of law and pursuit of justice is a waste of time. I think a lot of Americans believe, as I did once, that there are laws in place already that we can use to address pretty much anything that comes down the pike. Clearly, this is wrong. There are massive loopholes that people in power manipulate to their advantage. Such people have the further advantage that the rest of us are clueless about what they are doing and have done.

I can certainly talk a lot more intelligently about how the administration and Congress are abusing their power than I could in the past. The usefulness of that is first I can let my friends and family know what I have learned (and point them in the direction of particularly helpful blogs). And second, it makes it a lot easier to put politicians on the spot. Ultimately our elected representatives are [NOT - because its all rigged touch-screen HAVA racketeering 'vote' machines / js zog] answerable to us at the ballot box.

In my experience, Americans care deeply about our rule of law. We pride ourselves on it. Honest people may disagree on policy, but you rarely will run into anyone who thinks the separation of powers is a bad thing. It is equally rare to find someone who thinks the laws ought not to apply to powerful people. Hammering home the illegality of Bush's conduct (and even Pelosi's rewriting of the Constitution that removes the impeachment clauses) seems to me to be the best approach to use in unseating ALL incumbents who treat the laws as if they only applied to us little people. The more we know, the better we can make that argument. Congress has let us down. Now it is our turn, We the People, to restore the rule of law at the ballot box and in the courts. For the latter, I must depend on the guidance of our lawyer friends here to fill us in on how exactly the latter might proceed.

You asked someone to show you what path we can take. I don't know, but the only path I see is the arduous one of informing ourselves and everyone else as best we can and try to wrest control of our country back from those who are working so hard to take it from us. // Posted by: phred | October 28, 2007 at 21:10
[only two comments below this/fing heinous waste of lives made putrid by a village idiot and his high school educated pied piper leading clamouring lemmings off their debauched-bible's armageddon cliff WHEE! the CZ's found their messiah in the antichrist buffoon that heard 'god' tell him to strike at Quaeda / js zog]
And that is where Ann Coulter comes in and plays such a vital -- really indispensible -- role. As a woman who purposely exudes the most exaggerated American feminine stereotypes (the long blond hair, the make-up, the emaciated body), her obsession with emasculating Democratic males -- which, at bottom, is really what she does more than anything else -- energizes and stimulates the right-wing "base" like nothing else can. Just witness the fervor with which they greet her, buy her books, mob her on college campuses. Can anyone deny that she is unleashing what lurks at the very depths of the right-wing psyche? What else explains not just her popularity, but the intense embrace of her by the "base"?

Observe in the superb CPAC video produced by Max Blumenthal how Coulter immediately mocks his physical appearance as soon as she realizes that he is a liberal. And the crowd finds it hilarious. That is what she does. She takes liberal males, emasculates them, depicts them as "faggots" and weak losers, and thereby makes the throngs of weak and insecure followers who revere her feel masculine and strong. There is no way that the right-wing movement can shun her because what she does is indispensible to the entire spectacle. What she does is merely a more explicit re-inforcement of every central theme which the right-wing movement embraces.

Whatever else is true, let us dispense with the myth that Coulter is some sort of fringe or discredited figure among conservatives. That such a claim is pure myth is self-evident and has been for some time. But journalists who do not rely on such evidence can at least rely on Michelle Malkin's assurances: "She's very popular among conservatives." Now the simple task for journalists is to ask why that is and what that means about this movement.

UPDATE: Atrios posts one of the most stomach-turning though illustrative episodes, where various key media stars swooned over the very embodiment of right-wing contrived masculinity.

NOLA RICO Relocations

All According to Plan


Conservative movement favorite Bobby Jindal cruised to victory in Saturday's Louisiana gubernatorial election, winning 53% of the vote in a multi-person race, far ahead of the pack and avoiding a runoff election against a single opponent.

But Jindal got roughly the same amount of votes as four years ago, when he won only 48% of the vote and lost the governor's race.

There were multiple factors at play. The Democratic leadership in the state suffered their share of the blame for Katrina and its aftermath, potentially strong opponents did not join the election, and the race was never close.

But we cannot ignore the new demographics of Louisiana, as conservative policies made it extremely difficult for African-American voters to come home.

The Politico's report on Jindal's victory notes:

Jindal’s victory heralds the GOP’s further ascendancy in Louisiana, particularly in the face of sweeping demographic changes after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Massive flooding sent many black Louisianans, who often vote Democratic, fleeing [forced at gunpoint into relocations; then locked-out of projects undamaged by flooding /see Greg Palast
It was Huey Long who established the principle that a government of the people must protect the people, school them, build the infrastructure, regulate industry and share the nation’s wealth — and that meant facing down “the concentrations of monopoly power” of the corporate aristocracy — “the thieves of Wall Street,” as he called them. //= from
]   from the state to Texas, Utah and elsewhere. While the full political impact of the population shifts from the 2005 storms are still being revealed, it’s clear that Republicans are stronger than before.

Just before the election, conservative columnist Robert Novak observed (via Political Wire):

One underlying reason for bright Republican prospects in Louisiana's statewide elections Oct. 20 is the departure from the state of an estimated 173,000 African Americans, dependable Democratic voters, after Hurricane Katrina.

New Orleans is still 58 percent African American, according to a Brookings Institution survey, compared with 67 percent before the storm. But [forced relocation] migration of blacks, mainly to Houston and Atlanta, lost the recent Democratic hard core in Louisiana.

The Institute for America's Future August 2007 report, "Compounding Conservative Failure: Hurricane Katrina Two Years Later,"  [stop foisting the hoax - its been "(DELIBERATE) Incompetence" since the rigged butterfly ballots in WPB, the PDB on Hijackings, the foreknown 911 as the crowning achievement, aka 'the New Pearl Harbor' the PNAC predicted and prayed-for to 'catalyze support' for perpetual wars against a duped target ... the unexplained military anthrax sent to opponents of fascist 'Patriot Acts' consolidating corporate power in Reich aka 'the homeland'... and frequent alarmism to make infantile the comatose toob-fed sheeple...js zog]  explained how conservative policies have intentionally displaced Katrina's victims and distorted democracy. Here's a flashback:

With Karl Rove as recovery czar, no one should be surprised that one piece of his reconstruction plan for the majority African American, overwhelmingly Democratic New Orleans was the effective disenfranchisement of thousands of voters. The region’s electoral capabilities were destroyed in the hurricane. The conservative 109th Congress and Bush’s administration hampered the region’s ability to hold elections by legislating against repairing voting machines and hampering the effort to provide satellite voting stations for the dispersed New Orleans population in several states.

Dan Froomkin of the Washington Post laid out the motive: Rove’s leadership role suggests quite strikingly that any and all White House decisions and pronouncements regarding the recovery from the storm are being made with their political consequences as the primary consideration. More specifically: With an eye toward increasing the likelihood of Republican political victories in the future, pursuing long-cherished conservative goals, and bolstering [GOPs RICO extortions] Bush’s image.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson described the result: Louisiana and the Bush administration have refused to provide satellite voting places for those dispersed. They have refused to provide an absentee ballot to every displaced registered voter. They held an election with a secret voting roll in New Orleans.”

Ironically, the Bush administration worked tirelessly to obtain satellite voting for the millions of Mexicans living in the United States to vote in the Mexican election and Iraqis living in the U.S. to vote in the Iraqi elections. The administration may not be able to govern, but it does know ['know' aka rigging* see Conyers reports on Ohio, FL, as proofs, or
wherein the Ohio ballots have been illegally destroyed already, like the millions of illegally hidden White House emails... (how much time do you have?...) ]
how to count votes.

And although Karl Roves dreams of a permanent Republican majority have been shattered, in one respect he seems to have succeeded: With a third of New Orleans’ residents still living elsewhere, the diaspora is poised to turn the South’s one swing state red.

“Along with Florida, Louisiana had been different, a state where multiracial coalitions propelled Clinton, Landrieu, and Blanco to victories,” political scientist Tom Schaller has written. “The post-Katrina question is whether the black population will remain large enough for Democrats to continue building such coalitions.... Now, without the tipping-point power of the New Orleans Parish black electorate, Louisiana may well become the new Mississippi, which has two Republican senators and a Republican governor and hasn’t given its electoral votes to a Democrat since Jimmy Carter."

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